In the year 2004 alone, more than 11 million people fell prey to identity theft. Since then the problem has continued to grow, especially given the economic desperation many are facing during the current recession.
That means you need to learn all you can about different ways to protect your identity before you become a victim, as well as what to do to fix the mess if you do happen to become the next victim.
When a thief steals your identity, he or she can open bank accounts in your name, apply for credit cards and jobs in your name, file bankruptcy in your name, and do many more things that can jeopardize your finances and your credit rating, but that’s not all – there are some identity thieves who will even kill in your name.
The way they operate is that they will change the addresses on your accounts so that they are able to receive the statements from those accounts at those new addresses. They do this to confuse law enforcement officials, who then have a more difficult time discovering and prosecuting identity thieves. Criminals can open phone accounts, either cellular or land line, and start utility services in your name. They often open bank accounts in your name and write checks on them, draining the accounts leaving you to face the penalty.
Thieves who commit crimes in your name will gladly let you take the fall if they are caught. This means that if the thief is caught and fails to appear in court, you may then be summoned to court by law officials who think you are the perpetrator. For example, a criminal can obtain a driver’s license in your name so that you are called to account if they are arrested for drunk or otherwise dangerous driving.
If you find you have become a victim of identity theft, you must aggressively fight to get your good name back. There is a great deal of information available online to help you fight the long battle that begins when you become a victim of identity theft. Online discussion boards also exist where victims can discuss their situation freely and gain a support network of people who have been through it and know how to help, all without disclosing any personal information.
One of the most valuable tools you can use to fight this type of identity theft is to make sure that wherever you are, you have witnesses who can vouch for your whereabouts at a particular time. They can testify in court on your behalf. Purchase receipts stamped with the date and time are helpful, too, as ways to show where you were and when. Protection of your identity is crucial in today’s digital age.
If you become the victim of an identity thief, realize that no one will work harder than you to restore your good name and put the criminal behind bars. Sad to say, the law will probably put the captured identity thief out of commission for less time than it will take you to recover your identity, and society as a whole will pay more to address the ongoing threat and fallout of identity theft than the thief will ever be charged for his offense if caught. Still, there is justice in knowing that you can, with a great deal of effort, see the light at the end of the tunnel caused by identity theft.